Good-bye, sweet Dorothy
I am sad. My Dorothy died suddenly Thursday afternoon. She cried out, yelping in pain, making a sound I'd never heard her make before. It could not have taken me more than thirty seconds to run down the stairs to where she had been napping. "Dorothy? What's wrong? Dorothy!" I cried, as though she could answer.
I lay by her side, tears running down my face. I put my arms around her. She had gone quiet. She looked up at me, but her eyes were glazing over.
And then she was gone. She was simply . . . gone.
For fifteen minutes, my husband tried to revive her. "No, oh, no," he kept repeating. "Dorothy, don't do this. Dorothy stay with us . . ."
He pounded on her chest, breathed into her nose, but . . . it was no use. She had gone. We held her, then we held each other . . . and cried.
Her thick fur was warm, and stayed warm a long long time, all the way to the vet's. There, I hugged her and I cried, knowing we would part there, and my husband and I would go home alone. Something had ruptured inside her healthy body and it had taken her away in a matter of heartbeats.
She had been fine all day. Just fine. No hint of what was to come. At least I was at home. At least I was by her side. At least I got to stroke her silky soft ears and murmur to her how much I loved her, and what a great dog she was. I hope she heard me; I fear she did not.
Dorothy was a German Shepherd/Black Lab mix, and an independent soul. She was not terribly old, somewhere between nine and ten. She'd been a rescue dog eight years earlier when we brought home, so very thin and wary. But in time, she came to accept us as her pack.
Dorothy loved rides in the car, trips to the neighborhood park, and chicken. Boy, did she love chicken. I'm happy that her last meal was a few bites of the chicken I had at lunch that day.
Dorothy was special in so many ways. After my ex-husband moved out and my older daughter was off to college, the house was empty - except for my younger daughter and me . . . and Dorothy. Her fur was thick, and I would hug her and listen to her heartbeat and she would sleep on the bed next to me, and I didn't feel so alone. She was a bit matronly, sweet-natured, a canine confidant.
When I remarried four years later, she bonded with my new husband and they became inseparable. She became not just my dog, but "our" dog.
We are going to sprinkle Dorothy's ashes at her very favorite place -the park where she loved to run, roll in the grass, and smell each and every bush. When nobody was around, we would let her off the leash, and I'd yell, "Go, Dorothy, go!" and she'd take off running along the path, her ears flopping, her tongue lolling, her tail sweeping. So happy. So very very happy. Dogs require very few things to be happy, and running up the pathway at the park was one of Dorothy's greatest delights. We knew because of the smile on her face.
I'll have another dog, but there will never be another Dorothy. I will forever picture her curled up sleeping at the bottom of the stairs - where she died. I will forever feel her weight on my feet as I read a book in bed in the evening before bedtime. I will forever sense her presence in my heart.
And when we go to the dog park and walk up along the path where she used to run, and when the autumn breezes rustle the leaves on the trees and bushes she used to pass, I'll envision her there, and whisper softly, "Go, Dorothy, go . . ." and try real hard to smile through my tears.